WANG XIN CHUN
CHINESE CLOTHES AND TRADITION
From culinary aspects to sartorial ones, elements of a particular culture are often connected with and somewhat inseparable from each other.
In one way or another, they express and embody aspects of a localized belief system recognized and internalized by the people of this particular culture. One illuminating example of this is the clothing of ancient China.
People in ancient China believed that one's hair was sacred and untouchable, which explains why both men and women kept their hair growing throughout adulthood.
This belief is evident in a famous Chinese axiom, the basic idea of which indicates that an individual received one's body, hair, and skin from their parents, and the least they could do to honor them was by keeping their hair and skin intact.
As a result, people in ancient China rarely cut their hair after reaching maturity. While women could braid their hair or arrange it into loose buns, men tied it up into a topknot and held it in place with a pin or cloth.
Stringent hierarchical rules also governed ancient China, which was reflected in how people dressed. For example, a man's headgear strongly indicated his social position.
In the Han Dynasty, men of prominent social status wore hats that looked similar to today's baseball hats， only that their hats were taller so that they didn't directly touch the top of the head.
They were also sometimes decorated with simple patterns, such as raised stripes, to appear more stately and thus signify their wearers’ superiority. Men in the Han Dynasty also had to wear headbands to cover their hair.
However, compared to the hat-wearing noblemen, men of more humble status, such as peasants, were only allowed to wear plain headbands.
In the Ming Dynasty, officials and noblemen wore a hat called Wusha, which translates to Black Gauze.
It was made up of a black crown and two oval-shaped side wings. Only people holding aristocratic titles were allowed to wear this type of hat in public.
As for commoners, they were only permitted to wear it on special, ceremonial occasions that involved noble families.
However, since those who could afford to attend such events were either high-born or staggeringly affluent, the hat was entrenched as a symbol of the rigid social structure dominated by status and wealth.